A little over $300,000 is the amount Jefferson Parish Sheriff Joe Lopinto’s office has agreed to pay to settle a pair of federal lawsuits over the death of Keeven Robinson, who died in a struggle with narcotics deputies in 2018 after a foot chase through Old Jefferson backyards.
Lopinto’s office disclosed the figures in response to a request for records from The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate. The newspaper reported Wednesday that the agency had agreed to terms with Robinson’s widow, Wachelle Boutte, and his mother, Kiwanda Robinson.
Lopinto’s office said that it will pay $300,000 to settle claims from Boutte, who shared a child with Robinson. Kiwanda Robinson, who sued over mental anguish and emotional distress after coming to the scene of her son’s death, settled for $8,500, Lopinto’s office said.
The agreements, hashed out under the watch of U.S. Magistrate Judge Janis van Meerveld, came as a Jan. 10 trial date loomed in the high-profile case.
“I believe the record was clear that the deputies didn’t do anything wrong in this case, but it was still the death of one of our citizens,” Lopinto said. “It was a case we felt it was good to accept” a payout.
Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office settles lawsuits over Keeven Robinson’s 2018 choking death
Keeven Robinson, 22, died on May 10, 2018 after detectives, acting on a drug informant’s tip, tried to arrest him at a gas station in the 2400 block of Jefferson Highway. Robinson sped off and crashed, then led deputies on a foot chase through several backyards.
He was dead minutes later, in what an autopsy later classified as a homicide. It concluded that Robinson died of compressional asphyxia after suffering “significant injuries to the neck.”
Jefferson Parish District Attorney Paul Connick’s office investigated Robinson’s death, then announced last year that it would not seek criminal charges against the four detectives. Connick said there wasn’t enough evidence to prove the deputies committed a crime.
2 years after Keeven Robinson killed in struggle with JPSO deputies, DA says no criminal charges
A lengthy report issued by Connick’s office said a panel of pathologists ruled out that deputies had used a “lethal chokehold” on Robinson, based on the neck injuries he suffered. A police use-of-force expert concluded that the force the deputies used against Robinson was not excessive.
While court records show the sides agreeing to terms, Kiwanda Robinson vented frustration Wednesday that the settlements became public and said she was reconsidering signing the final documents.
“I never signed off on anything,” she said. “It never was official.”
She said Wednesday that she was waiting to speak with her attorney.
The lawsuits named Lopinto and his office as defendants, as well as detectives Justin Brister, Gary Bordelon, David Lowe and Jason Spadoni. Brister and Lowe have since left the sheriff’s office.
Robinson’s was among several deputy-involved killings of Black men that stirred protests last year outside sheriff’s office headquarters in Harvey.